Leading-edge technology has never been a hallmark of the Securities and Exchange Commission. While investment management has gone hand-in-hand with cutting-edge technology for the past quarter century, information technology typically accounted for just 8% of the Commission's annual budget in 2005, according to TowerGroup.

Rather than invest in IT, the SEC has largely relied on self-regulatory organizations-NASD and NYSE Regulation, prior to the formation last year of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority-to buy and build systems to identify possible violations. For an agency with outsize responsibilities, its tech footprint has been surprisingly modest.

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